We are all “perfectly imperfect!”
Real people aren’t perfect and perfect people aren’t real.
At times, I catch myself being preachy with clients and falling into believing that I have some special knowledge about life. I believe that I’m expected to pass along little gems of wisdom in sessions as if I know what life is really about.
But what do I know?
It has recently been mentioned a time or two, that since I have a Masters in Mental Health Counseling, that I should surely never struggle or suffer with any kind of issues that could cause distress, miscommunication, anxiety, or any other issue that is covered in the field of psychology.(Note: If you think I am addressing you, well then, I probably am)
The truth is: outside of my office I am not always so wise. I can lose my soft-spoken, reflective stance and be as reactive and unreasonable as the next person.
For anyone in the profession of helping others , it can add an extra layer of shame. Who do you have to be to be a helper? (For the sake of this post when I refer to “Helpers” I mean therapists, counselors, healers, coaches, and so on).
I believe that people attracted to the field of helping generally are good-hearted, well intended people. We learn so much about human behavior and personality theory and relationships with self and others.
The burden of this information and knowledge is that underlying belief that we can’t or shouldn’t suffer from the same challenges that every other human being faces. It may even be believed that we can totally prevent the behaviors and personality traits that we study, treat, and/or help other people leverage and overcome.
The burden is that we see both what is working and not working. We also hone in on what is not “working” or what is “dysfunctional” in ourselves and others
It does not matter what your title is, how many degrees you have obtained, trainings, or workshops you have attended. At the end of the day, it all boils down to you are still simply human.
The thing about life, it is full of bumps. Some of them are small and petty and some of them are very big and scary. Helpers, just as much as anyone, hit bumps in the road and so we are constantly learning and smashing into walls and backing up from walls and trying again because we are people and no person escapes the bumps on the road of life
I think what makes Helpers different is that we’ve made careers out of the work of growth and transformation and meaning-making. We are voyeurs; we watch our own lives and we watch other people’s lives, trying to make sense of it all.
It’s true that sometimes we may have acquired knowledge that you might not know because part of being a Helper is being committed to reading, consulting and going to a lot of trainings. We read the research so you don’t have to, just like the tree guy learns about pruning so you can focus on other things.
But I learn as much from my clients as they do from me because they know a lot of stuff, too, and they know way more than I ever will about themselves and their experiences.
People say that we go into these professions because of our wounds, and I would say that’s probably a very valid statement. But then again, we all have wounds because it is all part of the human condition.
So it’s not that we have it all together (because I haven’t met a person yet who does) but that we can hold space for others when they too walk in our office full of imperfections.
Nobody’s perfect and that includes you.
Because Helpers too, experience divorce, get anxious, cheat, drink too much and fall in love with the wrong people, avoid the gym, overeat and experience trauma, crisis and discrimination. Perhaps to the extent that we are good at what we do, it is not because we have mastered suffering, but because we are so intimately familiar with it.
Helpers aren’t whole, perfect beings sharing our wisdom about acceptance. We also seek connection and redemption from our own human exile and isolation. Otherwise how could we be helpful?
After all, wasn’t it that need to connect that motivated us to become Helpers in the first place? And isn’t it in the office that many of us allow ourselves a depth of vulnerability and courage that we seldom achieve in our daily lives?
“Don’t worry about being perfect-in fact don’t even consider it.”
With a Grateful Heart,